On Sunday my husband and I spent a lovely time poking around the markets in Greenwich. I made two purchases that I thought would make good additions to my altar:
– A little ceramic mask of Otafuku, the Japanese legendary figure who may be related to Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, Goddess of Mirth. I made myself an Otafuku mask for Setsubun/Imbolc out of salt dough last year, but this one is so much nicer and it’s pretty rare to find Shinto items in UK markets so I had to buy it! And at £2.00 it was a bargain. She’ll be my altar centrepiece come next Setsubun-Imbolc.
– An old wooden miniature shrine. It looks like it might be Indian or one of the neighbouring countries but I’m not entirely sure. Hindu possibly? I managed to get it down to a reasonable price and there’s something about it that really drew me. It’s aged rather a lot (I think it might have been kept outside) and there’s some traces of blue paintwork on it. It’s made of a lightweight wood (like balsa wood) and nailed together. There’s a little tray at the front which looks like it’s for offerings, which is handy. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll use it yet, as I already have a large mirror as my altar centrepiece where my tiny God and Goddess figurines stand; putting the shrine there as well makes the whole altar looked a little cluttered. I’m sure I will find a use for it though. And I don’t really want to replace the mirror outright because mirrors are very important in Shintoism.
If anyone has any ideas about what culture this shrine originally comes from, and how it should be used, do let me know!